It’s not the weight which you lose, but the life which you gain
The Beejal Dhawan story – a saga of an entrepreneur, a mom and a runner who went from from a whopping 89 plus kilos to a svelte 53 kgs.
Her Story on Star Sports has already grossed over a million views Wow ! How ? Why ?
A lot of people take up running for weight loss. Google it and the net throws up thousands of inspiring stories of fat to fit to fab. But the story is different when we take a closer look at our local running groups – so many people are putting miles after miles with little or no results!
Grim realisation – weight loss is not just a matter of putting on your running shoes and running day after day. You need to hit the sweet spot of the right nutrition plan (suited to your body), running/exercising right, steely determination and an iron will to follow it day after day to achieve weight loss and maintaining it there ! Hence, the respect and admiration for such real life heroes! Sustainable weight loss is not easy. There is no one-size fits all solution to this modern day fitness puzzle. Read - reflect and modify to suit your body type and personality. Find your sweet spot!
Some Facts. Simply running will not give you the weight loss which you seek!
- On an average you need to create a 500 kcal calorie deficit per day to lose one pound of weight per week. This calorie deficit can be created through dieting or running or both.
- Weight loss through dieting is achievable, but not sustainable in most cases. It suffers from possible problems of yo-yo dieting, losing too much muscle mass, nutritional deficiencies, chronic fatigue and slowing down of the metabolism.
- Creating the calorie deficit purely through exercise/running alone requires copious amounts of exercise and time commitment. The high probability of a running injury and the requirement of heavy food intake post the run make it self-defeating.
- The best possible answer for sustainable weight loss lies in a lifestyle change with a judicious mix of dieting and exercise (for exercise read as running) .
If it was so simple, why do we fail ?
- We diet religiously to create the calorie deficit. Too much of it has a side effect – lack of energy, lethargy, chronic fatigue and mental irritation.
- We run to give wings to our weight loss plan and tone our bodies! But the body demands to be refueled post the run. Is this self-defeating ?
- If you don’t refuel post the run, the body goes into a low metabolism, hibernation mode. It slows down and becomes lethargic – the mind tells you to rest ! So difficult to run again the next day !
- If you don’t refuel post the run – the body does not recover and repair itself to emerge stronger. Stiffness, body aches and loss of muscle mass !
- Run too much – the body needs a longer recovery time !
A vicious and self-defeating circle of cause and effect ! Balance is the key !
The Mantra. Read this… reflect upon it…make your own version…internalize it.
- Set a realistic goal of losing 500-800 gms per week ! Anything more…we are treading in vicious circle territory ! In fact an inch loss goal is better than a weight loss goal. Remember that it takes time, it will plateau out after a while…keep trying…keep experimenting.
- Use a good nutrition+running plan to create a daily calorie deficit of 700-800 kcal. A well balanced nutrition plan made by a professional is a good idea.
- Time your nutrition with your running to create the energy for the run and the post run recovery.
- Don’t overdo it. No point in giving it your all on one day and then not doing it for three days!
- Take a good multi-vitamin supplement and coffee/green tea in reasonable amounts to keep up your energy levels. Hydrate, hydrate, hydrate.
- Your biggest enemy and your greatest friends are your mind and your will…harness it, control it, conquer it.
But how to run ? Some pointers.
- Running Plan. Run for four to five times a week. Have planned rest days. Here are some suggested plans for beginners and for women. Evolve your own plan to suit for body and mental make-up.
- Running Techniques. Two popular techniques for running and weight loss.
- Slow Heart Rate Based Running. The essence is to run for atleast 40 mins at a slow HR to make the body burn fat instead of carbs ! The good part – it is doable and allows the body to run four/five times a week. The bad part – it will bore you to tears and is time consuming. Read more on this in our blogs on Maffetone Method and HR based training
- Intervals or HIIT. In simple terms – sprinting/ fast running for 400m/800m/1600m with breaks equal to the time for which you ran the interval. Minimum number of intervals : 400m - eight, 800m – six, 1600m – three. The good part – sets your metabolism on fire and the after burn continues throughout the day. You burn more calories even while you are resting. The bad part – it is tough with chances of injury.
- Energise Before You Run. Calorie deficit leads to loss of energy. Hence, it is essential to fuel your body to run. A banana(or two) or a small bowl of oatmeal eaten an hour before the run will give you the energy for the session. Offset these calories through the run and eating less later!
- Recover Post Your Run. The body undergoes stress during the run. It needs to cool down, refuel and repair to emerge stronger. Muscles develop micro-tears. They are most receptive to proteins and carbs within one hour of the run. Make use of this Golden hour by having proteins and carbs in the right mix (1:4). A good way is to have a protein heavy meal or a glass of whey or a post run recovery drink such as Univeds RRunn Post (https://unived.in/unived-sports/rrunn-post-complete-system-recovery-config.html). Be careful not to binge or overdo it ! The calories gained must be balanced out during the rest of the day. Suggested reading http://www.mensfitness.com/nutrition/what-to-eat/pre-and-post-workout-nutrition-for-runners
- Strength Training. Gram for gram muscles burn 2.5 times number of calorie as compared to fat even when the body is at rest ! Simple deduction – increase the muscle content of the body and shed fat. But it is very difficult to build muscle while losing weight, in fact some muscle loss is inevitable ! Hence, strength training is a must alongwith running when you are targeting weight loss. A weekly trip to the gym focusing on major muscle groups and some free hand strength training moves post your run usually does the trick.
- The Mind. Your biggest enemy and your greatest ally. Do read https://wellthyfit.com/runners-mantra-mind/
- The Plateau. The weight loss will plateau after a while because our body learns to adapt and constantly seeks the status quo. Challenge it by varying your routine and your exercise regimen.
If you have read till here, then your mind is full of questions. There is a galaxy of fans out there who swear by weight loss through running and then there are studies and blogs which suggest otherwise. Weight loss is a personal journey, unique to every individual. Find your sweet spot. We would love to hear your experiences and suggestions! Happy Feet !
You don’t need weight loss gadgets, slimming drinks or fancy diets. What you need are a balanced nutrition plan, a pair of running shoes and determination made of tempered steel !
Gee Ess, a runner-thinker-blogger, constantly experiments with various running methods. Constantly improving and learning from his experience, he blogs his knowledge to helps his tribe by keeping them better informed and become better runners.
Always looking for the next big high -physical, social, intellectual or spiritual, Gee Ess got hooked onto endurance running with ADHM 2014. A multitude of full and half marathons since then, he enjoys penning down the intriguing nuances of running that go beyond and hit the mind of a runner.
First you feel like dying…..then you are reborn